Case Study

Perinatal and Postpartum Depression: Screening and Detection

“It is important to identify pregnant and postpartum women with depression because untreated perinatal depression and other mood disorders can have devastating effects.”

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), 2018

Two weeks ago, Destiny discovered she is pregnant by using a drugstore test. She begins to cry as she provides this information during her Texas Health Steps preventive medical checkup. You make a note to confirm Destiny’s pregnancy through a blood test, then sit at eye level with her and listen with empathy as she tearfully explains her situation.

“My boyfriend used a condom, but maybe not every time,” she says. “I know I should be excited but I feel sad and overwhelmed most of time. I’m afraid I will lose my job. I haven’t been able to sleep. I don’t want to eat. Is it normal that I feel like crying so much?”

Destiny’s poor appetite and sleep, as well as her emotional lows, may be temporary symptoms associated with pregnancy. However, they also could be indications of depression. Your actions and guidance—and ability to listen—are crucial to help Destiny maintain stable emotional health.

Note: An estimated 14 to 23 percent of women experience depression during pregnancy. Studies of low-income mothers and pregnant and parenting teenagers have reported rates of depressive symptoms at 40 to 60 percent, a far higher rate than that of other mothers.

portrait of young woman
19 years

Click below to learn more about four ways you should respond to Destiny's symptoms.

Screen for depression.

Prepare to refer.

Share patient resources.

Be alert for postpartum depression.

Why It Matters

Primary care providers have a critical role in promoting maternal health and reducing maternal morbidity and mortality. Early recognition and intervention can make a substantial difference in the mental health of women who may be pregnant and, in turn, make a difference for their babies. Learn more by enrolling in the Related Courses shown below.

Related Courses

About Texas Health Steps

Texas Health Steps’ award-winning online program offers FREE CE courses for primary care providers and other health professionals. These courses offer updated clinical, regulatory, and best practice guidelines for a range of preventive health, oral health, mental health, and case management topics.